Oxford United 2-1 Southend United
Sol Campbell heaped praise on his youthful Southend United side after they were beaten by a late Matt Taylor strike at the Kassam Stadium.
Host’s Oxford had taken the lead from the penalty spot – James Henry netting after Blues loanee goalkeeper, Patrik Gunnarsson, had tugged the same players’ shirt.
But Southend deservedly drew level when Lewis Gard responded the quickest after Tom Clifford’s initial effort had been rebuffed by Simon Eastwood.
But despite their brave display, Blues were to be denied a share of the spoils when Taylor arrived at the far post to provide the games decisive moment.
“I think the lads played really well and they took the fight to Oxford,” Campbell told www.southendunited.co.uk.
“Oxford are a great passing side and have beaten a lot of good sides, they are a fantastic outfit and we took the game to them.
“We had a few good chances, stuck to the game plan and I think when we got a couple of injuries that really took us back with our positioning, our drive forward and our decision making with some of the players that came on.
The former Arsenal defender continued: “We’ve had moments in and around the box where we needed to be a little bit more ambitious and go for it in their box. With a couple of chances here in there, little snapshots, we could have made something more out of it, but I can’t fault the lads, they really played well.
“When you look at it, the squad has almost twelve players that are twenty or under. I’m proud of them, they played really well. I think we’ve done enough to at least get a draw out of the game, but one bit of magic and it’s 2-1.”
Southend United return to Sky Bet League One action on Saturday, March 7 when Bristol Rovers are the visitors to Roots Hall Stadium (3pm).
Oxford United: Eastwood, Ruffels, Dickie (Capt), Moore, Gorrin (Agyei 56′), Brannagan, Taylor, Forde (Long 86′), Henry, Sykes (Mackie 90′), Browne. Subs not used: Stevens, Hanson, Thorne, Kelly.
Southend United: Gunnarsson, Bwomono, Milligan, Dieng (Capt), McLaughlin (Barratt 63′), Gard (Hutchinson 69′), Shaughnessy, Kelman, Clifford, Egbri (Goodship 76′), Kinali. Subs not used: Seaden, Rush, Acquah, Mitchell-Nelson.
Referee: Lee Swabey
Assistants: Louis Marks and Ryan Whitaker
Fourth Official: Daniel Cook
Attendance: 7,451 (485 from Southend)